July 10, 2017
Music of the Polygonola
In the distant future, acoustic waves will be used to determine whether fruit, such as cantaloupes, are sufficiently ripe for human consumption, based on the resonant vibrational wavelengths generated within the fruit when exposed to particular stimuli. Wayward scientists studying the phenomenon, will be tempted to envision percussive instruments formed entirely of cantaloupes. However, they will quickly recognize the practical difficulties associated with public performances using instruments that are seasonally available and subject to natural decay.
An analogous phenomenon is captured in carefully designed two-dimensional metal plates cut in the shape of various polygons. The size and thickness of the plates are chosen to reproduce a particular set of overtones, which differ from the conventional twelve-tone equal temperament scale. The sounds generated in these polygonola differ from those of a one-dimensional string because the instrument is approximately two-dimensional and sustains two-dimensional waves. The sounds generated also differ from the membrane of a drum, as the membrane is supported at its perimeter but the polygonola is supported at selected interior points, resulting in different overtones when struck in the center and edge of the instrument.
This future possibility is realized in the early summer of the year 2017. Applied Vibro-Acoustics. Inc. has released a cd titled, Music of the Polygonola (A Polygonal Flat Musical Instrument) and subtitled a unique tone, timbre and scale (Applied Vibro-Acoustics, Inc., NSAVA-0001, 2017, cd)
The hour-long cd features several musicians performing on disk and triangular polygonola. Of special interest to the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House are the pieces of non-idiomatic improvisation. The opening piece, Fading Pleasure Of Creativity, is a trio featuring Keiji Haino on the disk polygonola accompanied by Kazuyuki Shiotaka on biwa (Japanese lute) and Rayzan Tanaka on shakuhachi (bamboo flute). For those fond of Keiji Haino solo percussion performances the final track is an eighteen-minute disk polygonola solo titled, Certainty Of There-Was-That Though Invalid.
More information is available on the polygonola website at http://www.oto-circle.jp/. This site includes a free pdf of the full liner notes in English and Japanese.
At this point, distribution appears to be limited to Japan, although if sufficient demand is communicated, surely an international distributor can be found.